Annual reports, a regular feature of corporate communication, often carry a reputation for being lengthy and a bit tedious. (Or, let’s be frank, downright dull.) However, they’re more than mere updates for shareholders and consumers. They have the potential to serve as effective, engaging and captivating content to convey your company’s narrative, principles, and accomplishments.
You certainly don’t want them gathering digital cobwebs in stakeholders’ inboxes. Instead, aim for them to be revisited frequently, both by your internal teams, fostering better performance and closer collaboration, and by your customers, providing a window into your business operations. (This holds especially true for not-for-profit organisations!)
Yet, with an average attention span clocking in at a mere 8 seconds, it’s no surprise that most people would rather endure watching paint dry than wade through a 100-page document laden with corporate jargon. In truth, it’s not the annual report’s fault; the blame falls on these five pitfalls…
1. Wasting Away: The Grim Reality of Waning Attention Spans
Handling a hefty document (whether that’s print or digital) can feel like a daunting task, and in this world, where short-form content is king, many will simply avoid reading it.
This is a huge frustration for brands (not only because of all the hard work that goes into creating them but because your stakeholders and consumers aren’t getting a front-row seat to your significant accomplishments. The goal is to ensure that everyone can celebrate your achievements and identify areas for growth, but when it’s buried in a document, it’s going to be missed.
There’s a better way.
Take, for example, this animation that simply explains the key notes of the Trust For Public Lands annual report, taking a long, drawn-out report and turning it into an engaging asset that is much easier to absorb all in one viewing.
Sure, all of their audience may not read the annual report, but at least some important milestones are reaching them. And who knows, it may even encourage them to take a deeper dive into the full report.
Now, consider this intriguing fact: Dr. James McQuivey has calculated that a single minute of video could be equivalent to approximately 1.8 million words. Just imagine the broader audience and effortless engagement your annual report could achieve by condensing those extensive 50 pages into a concise video.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are still four more pitfalls your annual report may be facing!
✦ People prefer shorter, more digestible content.
✦ Lengthy reports can deter readers from exploring valuable sections.
✦ Annual reports should adapt to shorter attention spans.
2. Lonely Reports: When Your Annual Report Fails to Reach Anyone
PDFs are just perfect for annual reports, right? Well, not really. You see, PDFs have this incredible knack for gathering virtual dust faster than a forgotten attic. It’s not their fault; it’s just that people find them so incredibly convenient to save and forget about. So, there they sit, marinating in the folder of doom waiting for the day when someone finally decides to rescue them.
Did you know that people are a whopping 52% more likely to share video content than any other form of digital information? Shocking, right? So, why stick with the good old PDF when you can join the digital age and have your annual report seen, heard and shared?
Video content is a breeze for people to access, no need to bother with those pesky downloads, saving people precious seconds of their lives and keeping them engaged at the same time.
Picture this: Your annual report could be the hot topic on LinkedIn, or maybe it’ll become a sensation among eager design students. All you have to do is bid farewell to the PDF and embrace the digital era. It’s not rocket science; it’s just common sense.
✦ PDFs can gather digital dust in inboxes.
✦ People are 52% more likely to share video content.
✦ Video content is easily accessible, engaging, and shareable.
3. Jargon Junkyard: How Cluttered Language Kills Your Message
Annual reports have long been the breeding ground for business jargon, but do they need to be? Perhaps it’s time to bid adieu to jargon and embrace plain language once more.
We firmly believe in this approach! Of course, we’re not suggesting you dumb down essential information. Instead, there’s a way to make highly complex business terms more accessible.
The human brain processes images a staggering 60,000 times faster than text, and a whopping 90% of information sent to the brain is visual. By translating your words into engaging visuals, you allow your audience to grasp complex concepts at a speed 60,000 times faster than if presented in plain text.
It’s all about simplifying without sacrificing substance.
Make your team feel part of the story by including their point of view and speaking their language. It’s all well and good to impress that one stakeholder who is stuck in the dark ages, but don’t leave your team feeling out of the loop by making your annual report impossible to understand.
This will also make it easier to repurpose your report, meaning you can share all your achievements with your target audience without having to worry about rewriting the whole thing! (Which is also great for consistency!)
✦ Annual reports are notorious for business jargon.
✦ Simplifying complex terms with visuals is key.
✦ Visuals resonate better with the audience and aid understanding.
4. Snooze: Why Your Annual Report Puts People to Sleep
Transforming your annual report from a plain PDF or printed document into an engaging animation is just the first step. Equally crucial is carefully considering the visuals within your report, as they play a pivotal role in its success.
Incorporating the right imagery isn’t solely about aesthetics; it’s also about enhancing the impact and longevity of the information you present. Studies show that when visuals accompany textual information, people tend to retain that information for longer periods of time.
Itt’s vital to ensure that every image serves a purpose, either by explaining complex ideas or amplifying key points. Think infographics and data visualisation.
Additionally, this presents a golden opportunity to showcase your carefully cultivated brand identity in all its glory. Your annual report serves as a stage where your brand can shine brightly, leaving a lasting impression on readers. By infusing your brand’s visual elements, you not only reinforce your identity but also extend the reach of your brand to a wider audience.
Spotify has revolutionised annual reports, and their Culture Next: 2021 report clearly shows how you can design your report to be engaging all on its own. Spotify even built an interactive page to host their report, engaging users to do more than just click the download button.
In essence, it’s about making every element of your annual report work in unison, ensuring that it not only informs but captivates, and not only communicates but also embodies your brand’s essence.
✦ Visuals play a crucial role in annual report success.
✦ They enhance the impact and retention of information.
✦ Brand identity can shine through visuals and leave a lasting impression.
5. Marketing Mirage: The Missed Potential of Your Annual Report
82% of marketers say they repurpose content across social media channels, so why not get the most out of the time and investment you’ve put into your annual report and transform it into engaging social content?
Maybe someone has decided that the cost and time of putting together the annual report might just not be worth it, and you know that that document could be the pillar for a whole year of social content.
It’s a mistake to think that your annual report is just for the end of the financial year; it’s for life. Treat your annual report like a marketing campaign, and you’ll save yourself and your social team a tonne of time by giving them all the data and information they would need to engage your audience and talk to your team.
Don’t miss out on this huge marketing opportunity by falling into the same old habits of years gone by. Let’s step into the 21st century and make all of our assets go further.
1. Pull out those key achievement statistics from your report and repurpose them for social assets, infographics and lead magnets. Build trust by sharing those wins.
2. Highlight the team, most reports share new team members and team achievements. Showcase them in a ‘meet the team’ social campaign.
3. Client showcase: highlight the wins you’ve made for your customers and attract more of the same.
Are you ready to make your annual reports the star of the show all year? If you’ve realised you might have been making some mistakes, and are ready to transform your annual report into an engaging, multi faceted asset that can be used all year round across all your touchpoints – Book a call with the Wizards today